At a time when so many holidays have become commercialized, it is very easy to lose sight of the true meaning behind them. You see Christmas items in the stores before Halloween has even arrived…Valentine’s Day stuff is out right after Christmas. Our society is a society of “stuff” – showering those we love with gifts on particular holidays, then waiting until the next celebration rolls around just to have an excuse to get a gift.
I don’t know about you, but if you love someone, couldn’t you shower them with gifts every day of the year? And I don’t mean gifts that you buy with money – I’m talking about the ones that money can’t buy…
Time, happiness, LOVE.
I have learned to appreciate those little things in life that many take for granted. We all know that we don’t have endless time, but it never really hits you until you are faced with your own mortality. Happiness and love come from the heart – they don’t come from a shelf in a store. You don’t need to surround yourself with the newest gadgets to know what happiness feels like. Sure, they may be nice to have, but knowing true happiness will come from loving another and being loved in return. That is when your heart will shine.
I found my true love almost 6 years ago, and here we are today – stronger than ever. We have endured some rough times, but those rough times make you stronger and bring you closer together. With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought I would share my own personal love story with you.
It was a chilly February evening and I was a senior in college at Western Illinois University. I had joined a few friends that evening to listen to karaoke at a local bar. We were enjoying the singers when I made my way up to the bar to get a drink. Standing there was a tall, good looking man, also waiting for his drink. I was standing there for a few minutes while the bartender was helping other customers, and all of a sudden, here is this hand extended out in front of me. The tall guy said – “Hi, I’m Mike, what’s your name” ‘Well he’s awfully friendly,’ I thought to myself, ‘What’s it gonna hurt?’ I responded to him – “Hi, I’m Sarah.”
All of a sudden, I get this weird look from him. He raised his eyebrows a bit, pursed his lips, and said to me – “Sarah? I’ve had bad experiences with people named Sarah.” He then grabbed his drink, turned around and walked away.
I was stunned. What was I supposed to do? I really had no clue as to what to do next, so I chalked it up to another crazy lesson learned about men (there were several) and went back to my friends.
A couple of weeks later, I returned to the same bar with the same friends for another night of karaoke. As we were walking inside, here comes this rip-roaring, big black truck into the parking lot. One of my friends knew the driver, so we stopped outside the entrance for a minute while they talked.
And whaddya know?
It was Mike.
When they finished talking, we went on inside and Mike came in after parking his truck. He sat down next to me at the table, across the table from our mutual friend. We didn’t speak to each other while he was sitting at the table; I remembered him from the previous encounter while he didn’t seem to remember any of it.
The story is… when I got up to use the restroom, he started asking our mutual friend about me – what my name was, what I was like and so on. I returned to the table and he quickly asked if I’d be interested in playing pool with him. Granted, I’m not very good at pool but I agreed because I have fun playing the game.
Wellllll… he was a tiny bit of a pool shark (and by tiny, I mean huge!) so he beat me in a hot second. As we were putting our pool cues away, he said to me – “Have you ever been coyote hunting?” Being a southern Illinois gal, that was not a common thing we did down there; I said no.
So he invited me to go coyote hunting. I reluctantly agreed…the pick up time was to be at 5 AM on Saturday morning. I was a little skeptical at first, but thought I’d give it a chance. I honestly thought we’d do the coyote hunting and I probably would never see him ever again.
But sure enough, he was there bright and early the next morning (actually, it’s not so bright at 5 AM). We drove over to the house of one of his friends who was also going hunting and hopped in his truck with him. The funny part about the switching of the trucks was that he had left the bar early on Friday night because he said he needed to get some sleep. I found out later that he asked his mother to help him clean out his truck because he’d be picking up a girl on Saturday and wanted it to look nice. It looked very nice, for the 10 minutes that we were in it!
After the coyote hunting finished, he dropped me off at my dorm. We both agreed that the day had been enjoyable and we’d like to see each other again. For the next 7 days, we spent a part of each day together.
I was starting to fall in love.
Our relationship moved along very quickly; we were fighting against the graduation clock. I didn’t have a job lined up; I just figured that I’d return to southern Illinois after graduating in May. But neither one of us wanted that,
so we found a house and decided to move in together.
As a parent now myself, I can understand the scariness that my parents probably felt when I called them to tell them I was moving in with a guy that they had met just once or twice. I didn’t have a job or any means of taking care of myself, but I was living on love … I just knew in my heart that everything else would work itself out.
I don’t mean to sound naive here, and simply put, I know that love alone does not help pay the bills. What it does give you, though, is a motivation like no other. You are sharing your life with another person; that’s a wonderful feeling to have, but also very scary.
But we have made it work. For nearly 6 years, we have made it work.
We have had our moments, like every couple does. And God has surely tested our marriage and our love for one another through many tests – one of them being my illness.
My husband has been my rock through it all – by my side as the diagnosis came, bringing our baby girl into the world together, holding my hand before they took me back for surgery … even shaving his head after I went bald because he knew how hard it was for me to lose my hair.
When I was declared cancer free for the second time, 9 years ago, I prayed so hard that my future husband would never have to endure this illness with me. Unfortunately, God had another plan. But His plans always have a purpose … this trial, just like the others we have had and will have in the future, brings out the love in both of us. We see the best and the worst of each other during rough times, and we love each other more and more every day.
Watching him with our daughter makes my heart melt. He is a wonderful husband and an even better father.
I thank God every day for placing me in that karaoke bar, shaking hands with a man who, at first, didn’t much care for my name. It is this kind of love that no money can buy – no gift from a store can replace … it’s the love that comes from deep within your heart, the love that God has given each and every one of us to share with another.
I am blessed to be his wife, his partner in life.